When To Take Your Business Most Seriously (And When Not To)


Some entrepreneurs like to play as much as they hope to become successful. The key is to find the sweet spot between serious and casual. Business doesn’t always have to be a sober endeavor, but you wouldn’t want employees or customers to take advantage.

Adopting a casual approach toward your operation doesn’t mean letting everything slide. It’s not about giving your team complete freedom to set their own hours and dress like slobs. That’s just carelessness.

“Business casual” should never turn into “business careless. Ideally, a casual attitude includes of a strategic combination of making smart decisions and accepting responsibility for the results of those decisions. No matter what the results might be.

Being laid back doesn’t mean you throw your hands up when you fail, either. It means you don’t get twisted up over failure, but press forward instead.

A casual attitude leads to generosity.

Every business experiences a variety of ups and downs, successes and failures. When you don’t obsess over setbacks and cash flow, you’re more apt to extend a generous attitude toward your customers.

Generosity isn’t limited to monetary exchanges. For instance, you can be generous with your time by giving a customer your full attention in an email. You can be generous in your return policy by sending clients a replacement the moment they report a problem.

The point is, when the little things don’t twist you up and occupy your mind, you’ll have more of a capacity to overlook the petty, small stuff when interacting with customers. If a person wants to make a return three days beyond the allowable return window, so what? Do it to make them happy.

If a customer didn’t purchase an extended warranty but the product broke after a week and you know about the issue, send them a new one anyway. A casual attitude can express your commitment to maintaining the integrity of your responses to whatever happens, regardless of what it is.

The time to be serious about your business and perhaps allow details to consume your attention is when you encounter emergencies and safety issues when someone’s well-being is at stake.

Safety is always serious business.

The “safety first” maxim will never get old — nor should it. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 5,190 workers were killed on the job in 2016: more than 14 people each day.

Many of those deaths might have been preventable if business owners hadn’t taken a casual approach to safety. You should take care of the area where you do business with gravity.

Safety procedures should always be observed and enforced without exception. Repairs should never be postponed or ignored, because they can quickly turn into hazards. For example, neglected electrical problems can become a fire or electrocution hazard.

Structural weakening from storms and adverse weather can lead to significant damage, if not addressed right away, especially where water is involved. Water damage to a ceiling might not seem urgent, but over time you’ll develop mold that can make you and your employees sick. Mold and bacteria that grow in damp conditions can eat through a ceiling, causing it to collapse.

Then there’s rust. Rust caused by ceiling water damage isn’t necessarily noticeable right away. If you see rust, you can bet the problem is more extensive than it appears since rust takes time to develop through the process of oxidation.

Over time, rust causes metal to disintegrate. If you’ve got rusty pipes from ceiling water damage, you’ve got a huge problem waiting to happen. The ceiling could burst on you, your employees, or your customers. Or it might explode over expensive equipment such as computers, or your inventory.

A casual attitude is accompanied by flexibility.

There will always be circumstances beyond your control, no matter how much time you spend attempting to anticipate everything. A casual attitude should keep you flexible enough to accept what you can’t change.

Try to find the balance between being somber and playful about your business. Be serious when it matters most, but know when to let go. Accept what you can’t control, and focus on what you can.

Have standards and rules, but be flexible enough to push them aside when the situation warrants. When you’re flexible, instead of taking advantage of you, your customers will respect you for extending them more understanding than your competitors do.

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